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Voting, Political Parties, and Political Campaigns
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Did you know that the U.S. Government has an official website? USA.gov is a comprehensive resource for U.S. citizens. This vast resource includes how one cares for the American flag, demographic and economic data about the United States, an overview of federal laws, how the U.S. government operates, federal regulations, government agencies, the U.S. budget, and perhaps the most important link: how to vote. The Voting and Elections webpage includes a primer on congressional, state, and local elections, including a How to Find Your State Election (this is important because each state handles voting registration and elections). In addition, The U.S. Vote Foundation webpage provides information regarding each state’s election dates and deadlines (all federal elections are on the same day).
Let’s say you have not registered to vote yet. That’s ok. You can learn more about registering to vote via the U.S. government’s Voter Registration webpage. In fact, registering to vote has recently gotten easier in some states: 38 states and the District of Columbia allow you to register online via the National Conference of State Legislatures webpage. If you wish to register to vote in person you have a number of options. You can register to vote at your state or local election office, the department of motor vehicles, and at armed forces recruitment centers.
Now, let us put your vote to good use. During an election you can vote on the following:
Local ballot measures. Ballotpedia, a non-profit website that provides a location based search engine that locates your local ballots. (Ballotpedia, n.d.)
Candidates and officeholders running for local, state, and federal positions. USA.gov provides a link to each state’s official website that includes content about the state’s candidates and upcoming elections.
Now that you know about the upcoming ballot measures and the candidates running for office, it is time to conduct some election campaign research. Most, if not all, candidates advocate certain public policy positions regarding economic, educational, environmental, foreign, healthcare, and welfare concerns, among other issues.
Public policy is how government, at the federal, state, and local levels addresses public concerns. Public policy can be understood through the following characteristics:
Public policy responds to a perceived concern. The concerns could be political, social, economic, environmental, etc.
Public policy solutions are mostly addressed through legislation or regulation.
Public policy is made at the behest of the people.
Public policy is typically an ongoing process.
As it must be in a democracy, public policy has been and continues to be strongly influenced by citizens, either as individuals or as groups, who are able to affect public policy through many outlets. They can:
Vote for individuals who advocate a particular public policy concern.
Mobilize, petition, attend town halls, and request attention from their representatives via phone calls, emails, social media, and visits to local, state, and federal assemblies.
Join or fund interest groups who advocate a particular policy concerns.
In this discussion, you will analyze a politician as well as policies she or he endorses. The following resources can help you in this endeavor:
Ballotpedia’s website on political parties, candidates, ballots, and elections.
A candidate’s official website, which you can find by Googling the candidate’s name + official website
On the Issues’ website about candidates and elected officials’ political positions.
Pew Research Center’s website on public opinion polling and data-driven political research.
Vote Smart’s website database on candidates and elected officials.
As you prepare for this discussion, consider this important quote by President Dwight D. Eisenhower: “The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.”
Directions: Using the required, academic readings, and supplemental academic research, please address the following while adhering to the Discussion Board Rubric:
Select a recent candidate or officeholder at the federal level that you considered supporting with your vote. Please analyze this person based on the following criteria:
Does this person’s moral and professional capacity make this individual capable of serving “we the people” ethically and well?
How does this person’s gender, race, ethnicity, age, education, and professed religion align with their political party?
How does the person’s gender, race, ethnicity, age, education, and religion align with the electorate (those U.S. citizens within the district and or state who will either vote for or against this person)?
How do you understand this person’s political ideology?
Is this person politically polarizing? Why or why not?
Does this person have an advantage over his or her political adversaries?
Select two specific examples of public policy that your person advocates from the following fields:
Economic policy – for example, U.S. budget deficit spending.
Education policy – for example, the implementation of charter schools.
Environmental policy – for example, the Clean Air Act.
Foreign policy – for example, the interplay between civil liberties and the Patriot Act.
Healthcare policy – for example, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Welfare policy – for example, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Why are these public policies important to this person and the potential voters?
Not Required/Optional: Based on the above research, why did you consider voting for this person?
About Pew Research Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/about/.
Ballotpedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ballotpedia.org/Main_Page.
Official Guide to Government Information and Services: USAGov. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.usa.gov/.
OnTheIssues.org. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm.
The Voter’s Self Defense System. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://votesmart.org/.
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